Cinnamon Bun. Cinnamon Swirl. Cinnamon Snail – or as we say in Sweden “kanelsnäcka”. Different names on the same delicious, ooey-gooey, sweet roll. It’s been my favorite ever since I was a kid and I don’t know how many hundreds of buns I’ve baked throughout the years. Nothing beats a fresh cinnamon bun straight from the oven and a glass of ice cold milk. On Friday October 4th we celebrate Cinnamon Bun Day and I’m definitely ready to roll.

Not only does it have several names, it can be filled with a lot of different flavors and shaped into various forms. In Sweden the traditional flavorings I guess would be cinnamon and/or cardamom but you can also see fillings like blueberry, marzipan and vanilla pastry cream. Lately I’ve come a cross nut based fillings such as Brazil nut (paranöt) where you just mix the nuts into a smooth paste and add to the buns together with creamed cinnamon butter. I bet it would also be great with some home made nutella – which I made for the first time ever last weekend, recipe will be posted shortly. Yum!

As much as I love baking Cinnamon Buns, they are in fact a little bit tricky to get “not dry”.  From the literature and my own experience I’ve learned that the yeast makes the bread dry – which is why some bakers only use sour dough as the sole leavening agent. Cinnamon is a spice that drinks fluid and it’s better to mix all the ingredients for the filling before putting it on top of the dough instead of layering them on top of each other. Furthermore, the amount of butter used in the dough (as well as in the filling) plays an important roll in reaching the sought after oozy-gooeyness. In my early baking days I followed the traditional recipe which measures 500 ml of fluid (milk) to 50 g of yeast and 50–100 g of butter. But now I think I’ve found one way leading to the road of sweet happiness which is cutting the yeast amount to 12–20g and the fluid to 350 ml and stepping up on the butter to at least 150g.

So I’ve got my yeast, fluid and my butter covered but there is one more thing I think improves the result. Before the butter is added I let the dough rest for 15–20 minutes according to the autolyse method. Autolyse is the process that occurs when the flour soaks up the added fluids. During this time the enzymes in the flour start breaking down the starch and protein. The starch is converted into sugar and the protein becomes gluten. This happens naturally but the autolyse method gives the dough more time to “do it’s thing” in it’s own speed. The sugar and gluten process also happens when you knead the dough, but an over-kneaded dough, infused with too much oxygen, can give you a pale and tasteless bread. Autolyse on the other hand has a positive affect on the taste, texture and color and, also, it increases the keeping quality of your bread.

For this recipe I did the autolyse after mixing the fluid with the flour and yeast. When following up on my research I found out that autolyse should preferably be done before salt and yeast are added. I made my buns based on a recipe where the yeast had been replaced with sour dough and the autolyse was made after the sour dough and salt was added. I let my dough rest accordingly to these instructions and I think they turned out really well.

To sum up: cut down on the yeast but go crazy with the butter and you’ll be rollin’. And if you are up to it, try different ways and other methods when you bake. It’s really fulfilling to discover that you can do pretty much everything with your own hands.

Now, go, bake!

Ready–to–Roll Cinnamon buns

9–12 buns (half a batch)

# 400g organic plain flour
# a pinch of salt
# 12g organic yeast
# 200 ml organic whole milk
# 1 tbs organic powdered cardamom
# 1 organic egg
# 86g organic butter

# 100g organic butter
# 40g organic sugar
# 10g organic cinnamon

1. Start with the filling by melting 50g of butter in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and cinnamon and combine well. Add the rest of the butter and let it cool, covered in plastic foil.
2. Heat the milk and cardamom to 37 C˚.
3. Mix flour and salt directly on a clean surface (table, bench). Create a whole in the middle of the pile and fill it with the cardamom milk and egg. Add the yeast in small crumbles and start combining the wet with the dry until you have a dough. This can of course be done in a machine.
4. Autolyse the dough for 15–20 minutes, covered under a clean towel.
5. Add the butter by kneading it carefully into the dough.
6. Let the dough rise under a damp towel for at least 2 hours.
7. Roll out the dough into a rectangle.
8. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly onto the dough. Measure out the center long ways and fold each sides into the center.
9. Cut 1 cm wide stripes. Take each stripe and twist them into a knot. Place each knot in a paper case – this is to keep the filling inside the bun instead of melting all over the place.
10. Whisk an egg and brush it onto each bun knot before baking in 200 C˚ for 10–12 minutes or until the buns are golden.
11. Brush some syrup water onto the buns immediately after taking them out from the oven. This will give them a nice shiny finish. Then sprinkle some sugar, chopped nuts or why not some shredded coconut on top.

Recipe adapted from S. Boudet (2012) “The French Baker” and L. Lindholm (2008) “A Piece of Cake”.

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